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Posted on October 19, 2020

Looking Back while Looking Forward as a Financial Advisor

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By Mike Gertsema, CEO & Wealth Advisor

At our daily team meeting this morning, we discussed a client that is a close childhood friend of mine. When I visit with her, I can’t help but think that I’m talking to her like when we were teenagers – offering advice, and giving each other a bad time on how ornery we were.

It seems to be easier to communicate with her as though nothing changes over the few decades. It’s really crazy when you think about it because there’s been a lot of life lived over the years and many changes, but emotionally I go back in time.

Emotional Time Travel

Some of the richest privileges in life are childhood friends, siblings, high school friends, and college buddies who instantly take us back to the old days and the way things were. Going back to a class reunion, you find yourself remembering your friends and classmates as they were in high school, not giving any thought to how they may have matured or changed.

When you think about it, they may have gone to college, earned a degree or two, have a successful career, maybe own their business, got married, have a family, and may even have grandchildren. But, when we see them at a class reunion, we think of them as they were at eighteen, with the world in front of them.

I think we tend to do the same thing when we look at our siblings. I’m one of nine children and invariably when we get together, we talk about the things we did as kids, reliving details of events that make everyone laugh and sometimes cry.

I realize a lot of events get embellished over the years to make them more entertaining, but it amazes me how we mentally put our siblings back to that time in life and don’t really consider how much they’ve changed and in some cases, we won’t allow them to change. We prefer to see things in a much simpler time in life and avoid all the complications, anxiety, and stress of growing up.

There are Places I Remember

It also reminds me of returning to different communities and homes we lived in over our married life. We remember the way it was when we lived in that town, in that house. We remember the interior of the house, the yard, the landscaping, and how we used to enjoy the neighborhood and neighbors, only to be completely shocked by how much it changed when we return for a visit.

The color of the house may have changed, they put on an addition and redid the landscaping – soon you realize nothing is the same. Even if you go into the businesses that you remember when you lived there, you find it’s changed and it’s nothing like you remembered it. It may have seemed much bigger, nicer, or better in your memories.

Changes for the Better

I am seeing all the above emotions today when meeting with old clients that remember my practice the way it used to be compared to what it is now. Our goal is to offer a better experience and much more value than ever before.

It used to be talking about the markets, the investments, the performance of the investments, dividend income, and yield. It was all about the investments and the education that surrounded the investments. That’s all good information and clients were happy we provided it mainly because that’s what they’re expecting and didn’t know any different.

Today, we are offering much more useful personalized information, education, and value to help our clients work toward their goals like never before. Technology advances at such a rapid pace it’s appealing to think about the “good old days,” but then clients realize what they were missing two years ago when we worked for a different firm.

We have clients point out the way we were and tell us their experience is much different today. The information and education allow consumers to be better informed, and that’s the future of financial planning.

Focusing on Financial Dreams and Values

The discussion used to be all about the investments, which is extremely important, but at the end of the day, money is a tool that allows you to pursue your dreams. True wealth is what money can’t buy and death can’t take away.  We are focused on true wealth and empowering clients to make life’s decisions on their terms, and we accomplish this with a focus on the client’s goals and dreams.

When financial advisors focus on investments, the markets, and performance they are focusing on the wrong thing because it’s all about you and your dreams. Investment performance doesn’t come up in conversation on someone’s death bed. It’s a life well lived filled with joy, happiness, and great memories.

Financial Planning is about You and Your Journey

The future of financial planning focuses on the client and what they are wanting to accomplish.

A lot of times, when we start working with clients on retirement planning, I sense the anxiety surrounding the desire to slow down but the worry that they may not have the means to retire. Maybe they do not want to go back in time to the good old days, but they really want to slow down, take a breath, and enjoy life.

So, when I discuss technology, virtual Zoom meetings, stress tests for risk management on portfolios, technology for income tax planning, and estate planning, their eyes glaze over with anxiety and stress.

Once they understand the technology is a tool that we use to help them with their goals, there’s a sigh of relief. In my experience, the best part of the financial planning process is to illustrate their plan and all their goals on a screen for them to watch, witness, and ask questions or request changes and different scenarios.

We also have programs that allow us to be more proactive instead of reactive on tax planning. We are focused on what we can do now, tax-wise, that may help ensure our client’s long-term goals.  We strive to provide value above and beyond investments with education and advice, and the focus is on proactive planning and collaboration, not reactive selling.

So, if your financial advisor is all about what they know about investing and not what they know about you, it’s time for you to contact us.  You can email me at mike@gertsema.net, text or call 816-259-5060, or set up an appointment with us.

Let’s Talk!